DETROIT -

Six of the nine people charged with conspiring to overthrow the U.S. government have returned to Detroit federal court to hear lawyers argue for a key hearing to challenge evidence.

Defense lawyer Todd Shanker and others want a judge to evaluate the government's proof of a conspiracy involving members of a southern Michigan militia called Hutaree (who-TAH'-ray).

The nine were charged last spring with conspiracy to commit rebellion against the U.S. and other crimes.

Shanker represents David Stone Jr. He says some people made offensive comments about law enforcement, but there was never a specific plan to attack anyone.

Shanker says the government has put its foot "on the neck of the First Amendment."

A judge didn't immediately rule. Trial is set for Feb. 28.

Charged are:

  • David Brian Stone, aka "RD," "Joe Stonewall," aka "Captain Hutaree"
  • David Brian Stone Jr., aka "Junior"
  • Joshua Matthew Stone, aka. "Josh"
  • Tina Mae Stone
  • Joshua John Clough, aka "Azzurlin," aka "Az" aka "Mouse" aka "Jason Z. Charles"
  • Michael David Meeks, aka"Mikey"
  • Thomas William Piatek
  • Kristopher T. Sickles, aka "Pale Horse"
  • Jacob J. Ward, aka "Jake," aka "Nate"

The nine are from Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.

Read:Hutaree Charging Document 6/2/10 Read:Militia Release Documents